The Washington Post

This is the White House’s favorite media outlet

The White House has a favorite media outlet: ESPN.

Over the past few weeks, President Obama or White House officials have compared political news outlets to the sports behemoth, golfed with its stars and discussed watching the network in the middle of the night as a way to make babies "well-rounded."

It's the latest in a long line of White House shout-outs for the network. Obama unveils a (quite unsuccessful) NCAA bracket on the network each March. Obama and his advisers have talked about how the president watches little, if anything, in the way of television — except ESPN. Obama has said that "Around the Horn" is the only show he watches. Its host, Tony Reali (aka "Stat Boy") and others got to visit the White House last year. "The show is very well received in the Oval Office. I kid you not," Reali said last year.

Let's take a look at some of the times the Obama administration threw some love to ESPN.

In the Oval Office 

Last year Obama invited an ESPN crew — Reali, along with hosts (and former Washington Post columnists) Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon — to the White House for lunch. According to Reali, Kornheiser and Wilbon had no idea that they had stepped foot into the Oval Office.

"And then we leave and Kornheiser and Wilbon were like, 'Where were we? Were we in the room to get into the Oval Office?' I'm like, 'What are you talking about? We were in the Oval Office,'" Reali said.

Despite that, Obama still wanted to hang out with Kornheiser and Wilbon.

On the golf course

President Obama misses a shot while golfing on the first hole at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on Aug. 11, 2013. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Obama has been hitting the links quite often this spring and summer. Some of his guests? Kornheiser and Wilbon. Obama headed to the TPC Potomac golf club, a championship course, with Wilbon on Saturday. In late June, Obama golfed with Kornheiser and others at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Last year he hit the links with both men — in July, for Kornheiser's birthday, and again in September.


Obama appears on ESPN each March to pick a bracket for the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Typically the brackets are disasters, ensuring his demise in the White House office pool. In March he chose a self-described "not imaginative" bracket, picking Michigan State to go all the way. Alas, the Spartans lost to the eventual champion, University of Connecticut, in the East region final.

Raising children 

At the White House Summit on Working Families in June, Obama recalled feeding, soothing and changing his infant daughters' diapers in the middle of the night. He sang and read to his girls, but he also made sure to introduce them to ESPN's "SportsCenter."

"I remember taking the night shift when Malia was born and when Sasha was born, and being up at two in the morning changing diapers and burping them, and singing to them and reading them stories, and watching 'SportsCenter' once in a while, which I thought was good for their development," he said. "It was. We want them to be well-rounded."

Media diet 

When asked about what media he reads and watches, White House press secretary Josh Earnest cited Politico. "In some ways, they style themselves as the ESPN of politics,” he said.

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.



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